MotoGP 18 Review – Not Keeping Pace (PS4)
Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, and Jorge Lorenzo are all modern greats of the MotoGP sport; however, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone that speaks of the annual MotoGP series in the same vein. Developers Milestone hope to ameliorate past woes by not only overhauling the engine (Unreal) but by bringing in a sleuth of long requested features; similar to how games like FIFA, Madden have adapting over the years. Ever since introducing eSports into the world of MotoGP, the video game series (that is well over a decade in age) has garnered a boost in popularity. Rising off the back of this, players globally will be hoping their previous qualms will have be answered, delivering a compelling case for the video game to be taken more seriously.
From the get-go, multiple tutorials are offered. Milestone has done extremely well at trying to accommodate all newcomers with Basic, Semi-Pro, Pro, and What’s New each presented and given to the rider to work through at their own pace. Each – regardless of prior experience – are a healthy option and can help to gauge what level of performance the players competence is at. As someone who has been absent from the series for a modest period, this made getting to grips with the new mechanics much more straightforward. Mastering each track itself is another task altogether, bringing its own challenges as learning each individual corner to perfection can make or break a race – normally the latter.
Race courses like Jerez, Mugello, and more have been flawlessly recreated thanks to Milestones drone scanning technology. The 1:1 recreation of all 19 tracks feels and looks great, bringing more authenticity to race day than ever before. Of course, there are bound to be fan favorites. Located in the Netherlands, Assen stands out amongst the crowd due its long straights and free winding corners that allow full-capacity of the Superbike. These newly redesigned physics come to pass best on tight corners allowing your riding style of choice to come to fruition i.e. “Balanced,” “Elbows To The Ground” or “Shoulders Out.” As your riders’ skim the asphalt, it’s super satisfying to pull the throttle back and blast off down the tarmac knowing you achieved that last turn or slid through that corkscrew gracefully.
Style over Substance
While the tracks themselves look pristine, the surroundings do not. Fans look pasted in from a previous generation, banners and buildings look washed out, and anything outside of the track feel computer generated. Rain clouds look impressive. Equally all-weather variants do create a different atmosphere but with no real impact to the track; it’s all style over substance. While entering into the starting grid, a flurry of content is available. From watching an introduction to the city where the race is held (identical to what MotoGP does on TV) to viewing social feeds for accompanying riders – all making the experience seem more credible.
Riders too look like carbon copies of their selves, which is why it’s a dying shame that they’re not utilized to their full potential. Cinematic’s have been introduced for the very first time giving career mode an added boost, although they’re used so haphazardly that it begs the question, why add them in the first place? As stated, career mode takes advantage of this feature most predominantly, having your customized rider enter into the paddock only to be briefed by his pit crew. Other clips include celebrating with your team at the winner’s circle and walking back into the garage while your engineering team shakes their heads in disapproval over your performance. We don’t even get a podium scene where each rider is presented their trophy! Instead, a brief video of celebrations (only applying when crowned champion) is shown in the paddock with the team yet again. It’s all so pedestrian.
This brings us to the real crux of the issue; loading. Yes, loading is painfully real in MotoGP 18. Whether trying to start a “quick” race, jump into career mode or just viewing stats this can last minutes at a time, only to be consequently presented with further loading screens. The number of times the game hit 100% loaded then continued for another minute or so is laughably frustrating. Considering this is not Milestone’s first foray with PlayStation 4 technology, they should know better by now.
Modes available are as expected: “Career Mode,” “Grand Prix,” “Time Trial,” and “Championship.” Nothing unusual or wrong with the latter three; they’re here and they provide what is expected. Career mode on the other hand had been promised to be enhanced and thankfully it has. Starting off in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, you’re given seven races to prove your “reputation” before factory bikes are offered to top-ranking riders. An agent (who could just as well be a mindless robot) is provided to deal with all of the paperwork for your rider, which adds very little.
A suitable amount of choice is at your disposal for attire, with helmets, gloves, and boots all interchangeable. Leathers are designed to be that of the company represented, still, some play-about with these would have been nice – when have you ever seen Rossi in standard gear? Once into Moto3, qualifying and race position must be kept to the requirement requested by your team throughout the season, if not for fear of being let go. While it’s noticeably more fleshed-out than any other mode, it still feels quite minimal when compared to what different sport franchises are doing these days. How about including more personality? Take inspiration from the riders and look at some iconic celebrations like Vale’s doctor coat or even Jorge Lorenzo’s spaceman. This is what has propelled the sport into the 21st century.
More discouraging news is the online setup. From the time spent since release (and before) connecting online has not proved possible amidst frequent disconnects and server issues. On the occurrence where the connection succeeded, a time-out message was immediately thrown back forcing return to the main hub the only viable option. Bitterly disappointing to say the least.
After the recent and unprecedented success of eSports, MotoGP has smartly begun to become more affiliated with the profession. Making its return from last years game, eSports Championship will be launching later in 2018 where players globally can have it out to determine who is supreme. For the minute, this is an empty screen for awareness of the upcoming competition so very little to comment at this time apart from noting the unexpected traction MotoGP received after their involvement. Besides this, a new “Spectator Mode” has been added (if you can connect) for players to watch races online, alongside a GP ID keeping account of all rider records and providing ghost racers.
Taking large strides forward in terms of accessibility, MotoGP 18 regrettably has a lot of issues and is undoubtedly a casualty of the annual format. Cinematic, customization and an enhanced career mode are all done to such a minimum that they barely make any impact. Fine tuning your bike has worthy detail with the tracks themselves being better recreated than ever before, yet this only goes so far. Extended loading times, washed out textures, and an unobtainable online infrastructure crucify what could have been a fresh start for the franchise. Worst of all, the personalities behind the sport have not transcended whatsoever – taking away one of its greatest assets. If released in 2014, MotoGP 18 may have held up (apart from the atrocious online) and even be considered innovative. Nonetheless, this is 2018 and with so many games on the market, one of this quality cannot be recommended.
MotoGP 18 review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please see our Review Policy.